Marika Hall and Yuma Tamura always ‘tag-teamed’ each other at Trinity, yet still forged a strong friendship that has stayed with them across international borders. We share their story in line with World Friendship Day on 30 July.
Marika and Yuma both laugh ‘No’, when asked if they hit it off straight away the first time they met. In fact, their first meeting at a lunch organised for Japanese students and alumni from Trinity College is a hazy memory for them both.
Marika, who is from Nagasaki, attended Trinity’s July Fast Track program in 2014, and had already graduated from Foundation Studies before Yuma, from Tokyo, started the August Main program in 2015. Both had selected Trinity College as they were keen to study abroad and knew that the University of Melbourne was a top-rated university for international students.
When Yuma wanted some advice about what to study at university during her foundation program, a Trinity College representative arranged a lunch so she could get to know some other Japanese students who had progressed from Trinity to the University of Melbourne, including Marika.
Though the pair met at the lunch, they didn’t start talking properly until Yuma turned to Marika when she was considering applying to live at Trinity’s Residential College. Marika had lived on campus the previous year, and Yuma was interested to know what her experience was like.
‘It feels quite strange,’ says Marika of the fact that her and Yuma never actually lived in the Residential College together. ‘I moved out from the Res College to a share house with another girl from college. But [with Yuma], we had coffee and brunch and these sorts of things.’
‘[Marika] was in North Melbourne where there are so many good cafes,’ chimes in Yuma.
Yuma did indeed end up moving into Trinity’s Residential College, and then, once again, followed in Marika’s footsteps when she joined TFAN, Trinity’s Foundation Studies committee, after Marika had left the committee, and then moved to Tokyo, where Marika had already been living for a year.
The women continued to catch up in Tokyo, and, earlier this year, went skiing together in Gunma, in the mountains north of Japan’s capital.
Of their friendship, Yuma says, ‘I think [Marika is] one of the few people that I can share my emotions and thoughts honestly with, because to me she's really mature. She's one year ahead of me, usually … actually, always,’ she laughs. ‘So I was always seeking some advice on life and listening to her talk about different things. She's like a sister to me, but at the same time, we talk about things at a mutual level.’
Marika agrees that the pair have a friendship that functions on a deep level, saying that they can connect on so many things, including their respective upbringings in Japan, and the fact that they both studied abroad, experienced life in Melbourne and attended both Foundation Studies and the Residential College at Trinity.
‘It's really nice that it’s so easy to understand each other – what we think about work, relationships and all sorts of things. So I think that mutual values and understanding makes our friendship really valuable for both of us,’ says Marika. ‘We have nice memories from Melbourne, like good coffee and good brunch, and now still have really nice conversations.’
Yuma nods in agreement. ‘I think Marika described our relationship and our friendship really well. I agree with her 100%.’